Friday, July 26, 2013

Dell Comics Cover Artist: Don Spaulding

Born in Brooklyn, Don Spaulding  talent started early  as he excelled in his high school art class and then spent four years at New York's Art Student League where he studied with Robert Beverly Hale, William McNulty, and Frank Vincent DuMond.  His biggest influence though was invited to work under Norman Rockwell in his Vermont Studio. That experience with Rockwell instilled in the Spaulding his passion for authenticity and excellence that has remained with him throughout his long career. Widely known for his U.S. Military art, his pictures are displayed in the West Point Museum, the U.S. Army War College, and the Pentagon. As the artist strives for detail and accuracy in the dress, gear, and weapons of his subjects,  Spaulding relys heavily on his extensive collection of Western and military artifacts for the task. Particularly interested in the regalia and equipment of the calvary trooper, the Plains Indian and the cowboy, they can all  be seen in his lush covers produced for Dell Publications in the 1950s. The Lone Ranger was the artist's favorite and shown here is his Lone Ranger's Companion Tonto #26 cover art. Though all details are accurate and authentic, the focus always remains on the person, a holdover from his early Rockwell days.  As the artist says "I was put on this earth to paint the historical West. It's my great love and passion."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Unpublished Gems: Unearthly Spectaculars

With his origin and first appearance in October of 1965, Paul Canfield could change into the wild Tiger Boy as shown on this unusual cover from the short-lived three issue anthology series. Doug Wildey was chosen the illustrate the first five page story that carried over to the second issue where Gil Kane drew our feral hero as he  fought his villainous sister  for his last appearance! Cover artist Jack Sparling unleashed a  striking image of the mysterious Tiger Boy attacking two State Troopers  for Unearthly Spectaculars #1. Shocking as it is, perhaps editor Joe Simon felt that it just wasn't quite shocking enough, so he asked for the changes as seen in the printed version above. Sticking with the main center figures which were photostatted to the cover on a smaller scale, Sparling altered the shaggy "moss-men" on the left to the surrounding gnarly and watching "tree-creatures" for an extra creepy weird scene. I would image writers would have been very limited in the story lines they could produce for this furry hero, so I guess its for the best that  he only lasted ten pages over two issues, so Harvey could move on to their next unique creation.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Foreign Favorites: El Jabato

With his first appearance in 1958 by writer Víctor Mora and illustrated mainly by artist Francisco Darnís, Spain's El Jabato, "The Young Wild Boar", was set in ancient Rome with a colorful cast of enduring characters.  Similar in theme to Mora's other popular series, Capitán Trueno, the feature found its own audience with daring tales of action and adventure. The story revolves around two Iberian warriors, El Jabato and his gluttonous sidekick, Taurus, who are taken from their homeland to the Roman empire. The lovely Claudia is also a introduced in the first issue, who eventually becomes a Christian. As the series progressed over the years, so did the supporting cast, including the Greek poet Phideus of Miletus, who teases Taurus to no end with verses and song of their escapades on his lyre, which the giant often tries to destroy. Later the boy Tai-Li is added to the storyline as well as a tiger called Bambu and a monkey named Bongo. Extremely popular in Spain during its time of dictatorship, it ran three hundred and one issues uninterrupted before a Spanish comic-book crisis affected the title. It also was featured as a backup for one hundred fifty seven issues in "El  Capitán Trueno Extra and its own El Jabato Extra for fifty two appearances.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Marvel Spotlight: Creatures on the Loose

Published in 1905, Lieutenant Gullivar Jones: His Vacation was a science fiction/fantasy novel by author Edwin Lester Arnold. His last novel which received meager reviews is still his best know work because of its important contributions to future sci-fi writers, especially Edgar Rice Burroughs. A likely inspiration for the classic Princess of Mars which Burroughs published in 1917, which really spawned the sword and planet genre. Bearing many similarities to Arnold's later retitled Gullivar of Mars, Burroughs' "Barsoom series" also had a military man transported to the planet mars as he fights for a lovely princess. With Burroughs' stories more exciting as John Carter defeats his enemies and gets Dejah Thoris, Arnold's protagonist did not always succeed in his adventures on the red planet. In March of 1972, Marvel Comics was searching for a new sword and sorcery hero and landed on "Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars" for its anthology title Creatures on the Loose #16 -21. Initially written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Gil Kane, it was later scripted by Gerry Conway and George Alec Effinger illustrated by Gray Morrow. With six issues that lasted only one year, it is fondly remembered by Marvelites for its action, adventure, and wild characters. It was revived in two issues of Marvel's black and white magazines, Monsters Unleashed, in 1974, though recasting the hero as a Vietnam War veteran in a modern setting with scripts by Tony Isabella and art by Dave Cockrum and George Perez.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gothic Romance Covers (Women Who Run From Houses)

Combining the elements of both horror and romance, Gothic fiction's origin can be traced back to English author Horace Walpole, and his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, subtitled "A Gothic Story". This style of writing continued in the English romantic period through the Victoria era traveling to Germany, France, Russia, and other countries up to the handful of modern day works still being published. The name Gothic refers to the (pseudo)-medieval buildings in which the stories were set, and the images were carried over to the eerie covers to sell these scary love tales. A heyday for this genre were the books produced in the 1950-1970s which almost always featured a terror-stricken woman in flowing gown running from a gloomy mansion or castle, often with a single lit window in the attic. A number of popular illustrators of the time did these covers over theirs careers including below Victor Prezio, George Gross, Lou Marchitti, Robert McGinnis, and Enric Torres Prat, and other unknown artists. I never knew of anyone who read these tomes, but perhaps in this case, you really can judge a book by its cover, and I dare say none of these gals ever became realtors.